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Poetry. History. Mystery.

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Characters and Caricaturas

(Inspired by Tom Lubbock's essay on William Hogarth's "Characters and Caricaturas" (1743) in English Graphic . You can read a version of the essay at The Independent.) What if the features splayed across my face Did not do justice to my character? 'They are all male' and 'They are all in…

John Milton, Rock Star

You think you know something about John Milton. He was blind. He was English. He was a Puritan. He wrote that interminably long poem about Adam and Eve, the one that literature majors perhaps still labor (or slumber) through. But did you know he was also something of a rock…

Van Gogh's Postman: a poem

"Postman Joseph Roulin," Vincent Van Gogh, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston What does he deliver, the postman? Unfinished pale streaks coming together in one hand, Blood red outlining the other, blue etches that show the sky, What do they possess? What did he see in those beady dark eyes that…

A Peripheral Glossary

My own pleasure as a reader of that type of fiction is being left in the dark, confused, gradually putting it together. - William Gibson That's exactly the kind of reader you have to be to enjoy William Gibson's new novel. Peripheral drops you into two separate futures, one near,…

Why I Write

I write because I like words. The way they sound. Alone. In sequence. The way they mean things. How their meanings change, multiply, when collected together. I like sentences even better. I like to tinker with a sentence until it's perfect. A perfect sentence is a crazy impossible dream. Like…

On the pleasure of attending book signings

Something I've been doing as I prepare to transition from "aspiring novelist" to "actual novelist" is attending a lot of book signings. I'm fortunate to live near a number of good independent bookstores, so there's never a shortage of interesting writers passing through town. I've gone to these events on…

Will Poole's Island

Classic tales can–and should–be told and retold. Will Poole's Island, by Tim Weed, feels like one of those stories: comfortable, like something you've owned forever, yet fresh, because you're seeing it with new eyes, against a new backdrop. This short, elegantly written book is a coming-of-age adventure about…

The Devil Comes to Fargo

How the deliciously dark FX mini-series combines elements of The Master and Margarita, Doctor Faustus, and Twin Peaks This week, Fargo finally gave us confirmation that Lorne Malvo is, in fact, the Devil. Not that it was necessary. In the first episode, Billy Bob Thornton's grinning, Vulcan-banged assassin waltzed into…

The Ides of April

I was born on the 102nd anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Exactly fifty-five years after the Titanic sank. A day feared and dreaded by Americans. Tax Day. April 15. The Ides of April. Lincoln and the passengers on the Titanic actually had their fates sealed on the 14th - the…

Five great uses of landscapes in literature

Sometimes in stories landscapes aren't just for scenery. Take The Hobbit. Tolkien sometimes personifies landscapes, using them to signal turns in the plot. Old castles wear evil looks; Gandalf disappears. Stormy mountains become rock-hurling giants; Bilbo's journeying band gets taken by goblins. Living landscapes serving as signposts to plot: fantastic!…